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I just started a job at an insurance company.

The problem I'm having is that I don't talk to my co-workers unless it's work related. I'm new in the office and all of them are already friends.

As the only new staff member, I feel out of place whenever they talk about something non-work related, so I just stay quiet. They never include me in conversations, maybe because I'm awkward and clueless about what they're saying. I'm afraid they mistook me as a snob, but I'm just really struggling to socialize, since I'm very much introverted.

I try to be polite as much I can and I feel anxious that they still dislike me. I tried to be friendly on my first week by greeting them good morning but they don't really respond so I quit doing it. I feel so alone in the office, even though I'm doing okay with my tasks, it frustrates me.

How can I deal with this and connect with my co-workers?

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  • Did your colleagues actively try to include you in their social environment? For example, at lunch or when they go to get a coffee?
    – imsmn
    Sep 16, 2021 at 7:29
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    Why do you think they still dislike you? Sep 16, 2021 at 7:56
  • 4
    I suspect this question is so general/vague as to invite multiple types of answers. This is better off as a discussion,
    – moonman239
    Sep 16, 2021 at 18:27
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    The flip side of this issue is for the rest of us to ask ourselves: if someone new starts at our workplace, do we do our bit to help them feel welcome and fit in?  That may come naturally, of course.  But (depending on the people and circumstances) it can be all too easy just to keep quiet, or to leave no room for someone new.  So we should make that effort, if necessary, to avoid anyone else having to suffer like OP.
    – gidds
    Sep 16, 2021 at 22:35
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    Does this answer your question? How can I tell if my shyness is an issue at a workplace? Sep 17, 2021 at 9:39

6 Answers 6

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First of all: It's not uncommon to feel left-out when you've just started a new job. Especially if you don't know anyone and are rather introverted yourself. That's only human, everyone deals with a situation like that differently.

Greeting

It's great that you started greeting them every morning - start doing that again. Even if they don't respond with words but a simple nod. Greeting is really just the most basic social interaction and sort of gives the signal 'Hey, that guy seems to be socially capable.'

Also, people who greet others seem more likeable to many - at least I think so.

A simple 'Good morning Bob, how was your weekend?' also has a good chance to start a little conversation.

Listen, don't talk (too much)

When you are new, it is very helpful to listen more than to talk. You are already doing this involuntarily, but it is important that you listen actively.

The advantages? For one thing, you get to know what your colleagues like to talk about and what they are currently interested in. Maybe a topic overlaps with your interests, which is then a very good basis for starting a conversation. If none of the topics have anything to do with your interests, that's okay too. This gives you the opportunity to approach them with something like 'Hey, you guys talk a lot about xy, what's that all about?'.

Secondly, most people dislike those who put themselves in the spotlight from the start. How would you react if you met someone new and they immediately took over all conversations and other social interactions?

Start small and easy

Start with small conversations rather than going straight into long and complex topics.

It doesn't have to be small talk about the weather, but I don't think anyone talks about Einstein's theory of relativity with people they've just met. Take something in between.

Search the conversation

For example, if a colleague helps you with a problem, buy them a coffee as a thank you. This is the perfect opportunity to have a little chat with them.

Be curious

You are new to the company, so it is totally normal if you have some questions about the company culture, the company itself or your colleagues. A simple question like 'How long have you been working here`' is better than nothing. Honest curiosity is perfect for this.

And most importantly, it is not only up to you

Remember that settling into a new social environment is not just up to you. Good colleagues will take care of introducing you to their social environment - after all, you spend a lot of time together.


In summary, actively look for opportunities to start a conversation, e.g by asking a question that is not or indirectly related to your work. Start small conversations and pay attention to the reaction of your colleagues.

Best of luck.

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    "It's great that you started greeting them every morning - start doing that again" - yes!! It's a shame that the colleagues are so lacking in basic politeness that they didn't respond, but that's their problem. Simple pleasantries like saying good morning and goodbye every day are basic and low-effort, but give a good impression to others: OP should definitely start doing it again.
    – Aaron F
    Sep 16, 2021 at 15:54
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    "how was your weekend?". Please only ask this question if you're really interested in the answer. I hate it when people greet me with a question and are already gone before I'd have the chance to answer. Sep 16, 2021 at 20:09
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    "buy them a coffee as a thank you" - do this if you're in a first-world country only. In the third world, a single coffee is so god-damned expensive it's like buying someone an iPad in the first world as a "thank for this random thing you did" (relative to minimum wage, this is not an exaggeration by the way [in other words, it's creepy]). I guess the point made here is: show appreciation in a manner that sparks an excuse for conversation. Sep 17, 2021 at 0:01
  • Good summary. It's also important to focus on when to talk to people. Not when they're in a hurry - coming into the office or going home isn't always good for that reason. Better times might be in a shared kitchen waiting for tea/coffee, waiting for a meeting to start, etc.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 17, 2021 at 8:47
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I'm also introvert person, just like you, and I've experienced the same thing. In college when I enter new organization, I can only get along to someone that works together with me. Outside the job I felt like I cannot talk about anything else and it would be awkward, because we don't have anything in common to talk about. So I understand how you feel.

Afterwards, I try new approach when I enter new working environment. First, to the first person I meet in the office, I will talk about the things that I don't know about the company, one of the easiest topic might be culture, how things work around the office, where to eat, career path, etc. Please, don't bother feeling awkward to this person! Of course it will feel kind of awkward, but just go on. The key here is actually make them talk about something they can talk quite long, ask about something they understand, from there you can ask more questions on the details that you found interesting.

Then, I stick with that one person, and when I reach the office space, I ask them to introduce me to everyone, one by one, get to know their role. After knowing their role, I know what topic I can talk to them to keep the conversation going, to make them talk more next time I meet them. I think this approach is the easiest, the transition is not abrupt, you don't talk about your hobby all of a sudden, but instead you talk about something that is job related, right?

But if its only job related to your job, just to finish your task, the conversation will not go anywhere, so you need to look curious in the details, keep asking if there is something that you found interesting, whenever you can discuss about your past experience that relates to the conversation topic, you can also slip that in.

This method works like charm for me, I don't know about anyone else but this really helps me make friends in my office. I know this may seems like common sense, but I think this is the best answer I can give.

Please be advises that it might not be your mistake if you don't get along. You are new there, and people should welcome you, onboard you, and try to make you feel welcome. If you tried to be nice to everybody and have tried everything to have a conversation and they're still not being open to you, I think it's on them.

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    Try doing this technique with a box of donuts in your hands for easy mode :)
    – Ben
    Sep 16, 2021 at 18:06
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    One place I worked at assigned each new joiner a ‘mentor’ for their first couple of weeks — someone from their department (but not their boss or team leader) who could show them where things were, introduce them to people, answer their questions, make sure they had everything they needed, and generally help them get settled in.  It seemed to work really well, and I'd recommend it as a company policy!
    – gidds
    Sep 16, 2021 at 22:19
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Go back to saying good morning with a smile.

If you STILL don't get a good response, ask someone for help. Helping people both makes them feel important and in their minds they believe you are WORTH helping.

It's a very quick way to get people to like you. Ask them for help with minor things, and give them an exuberant thank you. This combined with the greetings and smiles will work wonders.

People have a very hard time disliking people who express interest in them. Keep it up and they will warm up towards you.

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Be patient

People naturally take a while to accept and get comfortable around a new person in any social setting. You'd probably also take a while to get comfortable around them.

Greet people

This goes a long way towards making yourself come across as friendly and approachable.

Don't stop doing that.

Here are a few rules of thumb I'd recommend:

  • When walking past someone in a hallway, I'd usually either nod my head or say hello, and they usually respond in kind.

  • When walking past someone at their desk, I'd do the same as above if they make eye contact, but otherwise I'll probably refrain from potentially distracting them with a greeting.

    I may make exceptions for people I talk to regularly or if it's a small office.

  • When arriving at my desk, I usually give a greeting to:

    • the person/people sitting next to me
    • whomever's there at the moment
    • everyone and no-one in particular
    • whomever's attention I've drawn
    • or my team

    ... depending on what makes the most sense to me at the time and probably based on how I feel.

If people don't respond, I usually don't think too much about it. They might just be deep in thought, in the middle of something they can't interrupt or they might just not have heard.

Be positive (on the outside)

  • Smile at people
  • Be excited about what's happening in your life.
  • Be interested in and excited about what's happening in other people's lives.
  • Be confident (or appear to be confident; even if I'm feeling awkward and self-conscious, I still make eye contact, smile, speak clearly and try to say what whatever I want to say with conviction)

I know it can be hard if you're introverted, but this goes a long way towards making people want to talk to you.

You don't have to turn into a super bubbly person, nor do these things all the time. Just do them a bit more often (if you're not doing them that much as it stands).

Even just something relatively small like cutting words like "fine", "okay" and "cool" out of your vocabulary and replacing them with words like "awesome" or "great" (or even "terrible", if you delivery it with enough positivity) could make a huge difference. Giving more extensive answers can also help a lot (a minor example: "How's it going?" "Pretty well, but I can't wait for the weekend!").

Be proactive

Here are 3 introverts' dilemmas: (the last one is probably the most relevant to your situation, although the others may also apply)

  • Two people like each other (as friends or more), but both are too afraid the other doesn't like them, so neither does anything about it.
  • One person likes someone else (as friends or more), but they're too afraid to do anything about it. The other person may be open to something, but has no idea how the first person feels and hasn't thought much about them, so neither does anything about it.
  • Someone wants to be a part of a group, and sits back waiting for the group to involve them. The group wouldn't mind if that person were a part of it, but they're not actively trying to be part of it, so the group assumes they're not interested. So no-one does anything about it.

The point you should take from the above is this: don't just sit back and wait for people to include you. Start conversations with people, speak up in group conversations, ask whether you can go along to things if it seems like a more casual affair*, invite people to stuff, etc.

I know being proactive can be hard, but that's how you get what you want in life. It also gets easier the more you do it. I used to basically never talk to anyone outside my team. Now I'd be comfortable striking up a conversation with pretty much anyone who works at my office. I'm still an introvert, but I've just realised and accepted that starting a conversation just isn't such a big deal (after forcing myself to do it once or twice).

* For example, people going to lunch on a workday is usually super casual. If they're meeting at someone's house in the evening or on the weekend, you can potentially still ask about being included, although I'd be a bit more cautious about overstepping my bounds there (especially about how I'd phrase it).

Start with one person

When you have a group of people that know each other, they will often talk about things that require some context to make sense of, so it can be hard to integrate into a group from there.

If you're talking to someone one-on-one, it's much easier to actually be part of the conversation (it's kind of hard not to be) and build a connection.

Make some small talk with someone at the coffee machine or in the hallway or wherever (keeping in mind that you probably shouldn't drag those conversations out too much in case they're on their way to a meeting or they're busy).

You could try to build a strong connection with one person, or you could connect with various people. Either approach could help with gaining acceptance in the group. They may ask you questions or mention something about you in group conversations, which could help you connect with others. Or those connections could just be the goal in and of itself.

Ask questions (but not too many)

If people are talking about things you don't understand in a conversation you're in, it's perfectly fine to ask for some context occasionally.

Try to pick your battles. Don't try to understand everything. Focus on things that seem important and could tell you a lot about the people involved.

You could also hold some of these questions until you get into a one-on-one conversation with them. It probably doesn't make too much sense to ask questions that go into a lot of detail in a group conversation where most people may already know this information.

Try not to worry about it too much though. It's probably going to feel a bit awkward to stop a conversation to ask for context, but most of the time other people won't think much of it.

Invite people to stuff

This could include asking whether someone wants to grab a coffee or it could be hosting or attending some sort of party or event involving mutual interests (ideally, but not necessarily) and inviting others.

You can do this even if you don't know the people all that well.

The interactions and conversations that spontaneously happen can be sufficient to build connections to more naturally lead into these sorts of things. But they also may not be (or it may take really long).

Don't worry (too much) about whether they like you

It's easier said than done, but try not to worry too much.

There are thousands of signals you can analyse in terms of body language, expression, tone, phrasing, etc. to the point that if you're looking hard enough for evidence to support the belief that people don't like you (or any other belief), you'll probably find it. You'll just drive yourself crazy. Most of those signals don't actually mean anything at all.

Try to focus on the more high-level things. Do they occasionally invite you to stuff? If you invite them to stuff, do they occasionally accept your invitation? Do they actually stick around occasionally when you try to talk to them? Keep in mind there are plenty of reasons why they might not do those things, so take those signals with a substantial grain of salt.

Also, try to assume the best. If you incorrectly believe someone likes you, you may just end up bugging them a bit or slightly embarrassing yourself. In the moment it might suck, but in the long term it doesn't matter at all. If you incorrectly believe someone doesn't like you, you may end up losing out on an amazing relationship, and if you keep doing this, you may lose out on all relationships. The latter is much worse. Assume people like you (or they're indifferent towards you) until you have strong evidence to suggest otherwise.

Also, even if they don't have the best opinion of you, there's always the option of changing their mind by just generally being nice to them and being fun to be around.

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There are many great answers here already, but some things I've noticed that work.

I have a neighbour who seems to use asking for small favours (borrowing things) as a way to ingratiate himself. He's great at returning things on time and extremely polite. It works because he gets to connect with the neighbourhood one on one.

Also, being generous, someone said in one of the comments to have a box of donuts - I think that definitely works. It sends the signal that you like the people you work with, regardless of whether you are a chatty Kathy.

Offering things, "I'm going to get a cup of tea, anybody want one?"

Eventually you will get comfortable with some of the people you work with and it will all be easier.

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Let me answer this with an anecdote that is very similar to your situation.

Several years ago, I did a short project (less than two months) at a rather small office (about 10-15 people on my floor) of a big governmental company. Since I was the only one working on this project, and there were no desks available in the main office-area, I was placed in a separate room. This room was in fact the First-Aid room where they had placed a table to work on...

Since this room had no windows, and I was the only one working in there, I virtually had no contact with my colleagues. I was also very introverted at the time. Because my direct supervisor noticed that I was getting isolated, he suggested that every morning I'd walk into the room next door (where all my other colleagues were sitting) and shake hands with everyone (even the ones of which I didn't even know their first name) and simply say "Good morning". That is all! Nothing more! No need for any chit-chat.

What happened?

  • When someone saw me in the corridors, they'd spontaneously wish me good morning as well and sometimes would even start a short conversation about trivial things. E.g. how my project is going. Even if the project was totally unrelated to him, or if I hadn't ever spoken to him ever before.
  • They started knocking on my door when they went to have lunch, and asked me if I wanted to join them; or they came to inform me they were going to the store across the street and asked if I cared to join them or if I wanted them to bring me something
  • They occasionally started asking me questions about things they knew was my area of expertise when they were working on stuff that was out of their comfort zone
  • They spontaneously started offering me contacts that could help me with my project

To summarize: just greet everyone every morning when you enter the building. Just show them that you are a friendly person and you are open for a conversation with them. Everything else will follow. (Assuming that they're nice people themselves of course)

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